Savanna Superman: Elephants of Africa by Gail Gibbons
Gail Gibbons has made her name as the queen of the nonfiction picture book, with books on holidays, plants, animals, and even ecosystems, as in her Coral Reefs, a little jewel of an introduction to this subject for primary graders.
In Elephants of Africa Gibbons takes on an animal so big and powerful that it almost creates its own ecosystem as it goes. Gibbons first briefly describes those enigmatic ancestors of the modern elephant--mammoths and mastodons--and then jumps right into the fascinating facts of the African elephant.
For example, who knew...?
Elephants can swim for several hours and several miles at a time, "snorkeling" along with their trunks above water and most of the rest of the pachyderm submerged.
Elephants often deliver food to other disabled animals who cannot forage for themselves.
Elephants need up to 40 gallons of water daily.
The matriarch of each family group has the responsibility for remembering where water can be found at any season. She is said to be able to smell underground water miles away and lead her charges to the spot where they then dig a water hole with their powerful tusks.
Elephants have very thick skin--1.5 inches thick. What they do not have is a layer of fat under the skin to protect them from cold.
Elephants see poorly in bright sunlight, only up to about 60 feet away. Their eyes function better in subdued light, however.
Gibbons organizes these and many other facts logically, with colored drawings illustrating the information fully. For preschoolers and the primary grades, Elephants of Africa is a great place to start for knowledge about this largest of living land animals.